Sunday, May 5, 2013

Zomerkoninkjes

If you're at all keeping up with the news back home, you know we've just had an important change of the guard. Queen Beatrix abdicated, after 33 years of being at the helm, the throne to her son William Alexander. For the first time in 123 years, we'll go back to having a king.

My mind being the way it is, I was more consumed with finding out what they were going to eat during these exciting days than with the whole crowning affair per se, with all due respect. Would they serve Koninginnesoep for one last time? A slice of koningsbrood to go with a Dutch cup of coffee? Oh, if only I knew!!! Worst of all, with all this talk about koning this and koning that, I could not stop thinking about zomerkoninkjes.

Zomerkoninkjes, summer kings, is a Dutch nickname for strawberries. They grow abundantly in The Netherlands, both in fields and in greenhouses. Furthermore, it's a great way to make some spending money in the summer: when I was a young girl, many of my classmates would pick field strawberries for the local farmer and get paid per crate. I tried to do the same one year, but ended up eating more strawberries than landed in my crate. At the end of the day, I had only made a few guilders. And I had a big stomach ache!

But strawberries are a traditional early summer treat. As soon as the red berries are available in the store or at the market, the Dutch will serve these first berries on slices of white, buttered bread with a sprinkling of regular sugar, much to the delight of the children. Because, as strawberries are fairly juicy, the moment you pour sugar on it, it dissolves. The trick was to convince your parents that you had not yet sprinkled any sugar on the fruit and that it was imperative that you'd sprinkle some more, and then see how many times you could get away with it.

What a grand way to celebrate the change of seasons: whether it be on Soestdijk or at your kitchen table. Long live the summer king!



9 comments:

  1. I don't want to be disrespectful, I'm just curious; what's this love affair the Duch have with slices of buttered white bread and unusual stuff on top? Chocolate sprinkles, strawberries, sugar covered aniseed. I tried to get an answer from my Dutch friend and he just jokes in his typical way.

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    1. Ana, you are not being disrespectful at all! And you are correct, we do have a love affair with all things bread. Two out of our three daily meals consist of bread, so in order to keep things interesting we come up with all kinds of fabulous toppings: chocolate sprinkles, cookies, fruit..... The butter is to make sure all this good stuff sticks, the more the better! :-)

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    2. Every nation or culture has its quirkyness. Few nations eat sandwiches for breakfast; or put a slice of cheese on a slice of bread. Yet all dutch schoolchildren have this for lunch and breakfast. Cheese is quite cheap there.

      People also put slices banana on bread.


      wout

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    3. Sliced banana I love! With honey. No butter though. Let me tell you something I did to my Dutch friend. He gave me a box of the extra-large dark chocolate sprinkles (delicious btw) and told me he loved that on a slice of beschuit with liver paté. Guess what I did the day after (telling myself that he had been joking and he wouldn't eat that!)? Yes, brought him a beschuit with liver paté and chocolate sprinkles. Gues again. He ate it!

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    4. Anna, you crack me up!I am not surprised he would eat it, people create some odd-flavored favorites, and stick with them for life! Paté and hagelslag is a new one for me, but it sounds good!

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    5. YUCK... That sounds terribly disgusting to me!!

      now a sandwich with Ham, topped with melted Cheese and Sambal Badjak on it - that's what I want!!

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    6. Ohhhh, that sounds YUMMY oldjinks! I consider myself to be what I call an International Eater. I love to try new foods and I never say I don't like something until I've tried it. But there are certain lines I do not cross (like liver paté and chocolate sprinkles LOL!). I live in Belgium, so there are a lot of similarities with the Dutch cuisine. But I'm Portuguese, so my food background is more of fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, lots of garlic, grilled meats and fish. And I was born in Africa, so I have a lot of influence from African and Indian cuisines.

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    7. and for good measure -
      spread some peanut butter on the sandwich before you add the ham, cheese and sambal badjak.. :^) :^)

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  2. Now we might have a slight problem there, oldjinks. I hate peanut butter! Anything peanuts really. But without it, I'm willing to try. Gonna ask my friend if he can bring me some of that sambal badjak.I've tried other types of sambal and I love them. Is it spicy? I love spicy hot food! Must have been those chili peppers (bird's eye) I ate when I was 2 LOL!

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